‘Huge’ car dealer Billy Fuccillo dead at 65

Legendary car dealer Billy Fuccillo, whose trademark “It’s gonna be huuuuuuuuuggge” was the signoff for countless commercials, died at his Florida home this week. He was 65.

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The Syracuse Auto Dealers Association announced Fuccillo’s death Friday morning in an email to members, WSTM reported.

Fuccillo’s health had declined over the past year after he suffered a stroke, and he sold his Cape Coral, Florida, home to the family of Kevin Ruane for $2.25 million, the Fort Myers News-Press reported. He was living in Sarasota, Florida, at the time of his death.

Last year, Fuccillo sold two dealerships in southwest Florida -- in Port Charlotte and Cape Coral -- to the publicly traded LMP Automotive Holdings company, the newspaper reported. In January 2021, Fuccillo sold three New York dealerships in the Syracuse area and two in the Rochester area to Matthews Auto Group, according to the Albany Times-Union.

Fuccillo was best known for appearing in television and radio ads, ending them with a booming voice

“My mom tells me she mutes me when my commercials come on,” Fuccillo told the Times Union in a 2008 interview.

“He was bigger than life,” Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick told WSTM.

“He was a big guy. He was a big personality,” Kim Perrella, vice president for Auto Shows and Member Relations at the Eastern New York Coalition of Automotive Retailers, Inc., told the Times-Union.

Fuccillo, an avid golfer, always received attention on the course, Fitzpatrick said.

“Every time I played with him and he hit a shot somebody would scream “That was HUGE!” And Billy would smile and wave, like he heard it for the first time,” Fitzpatrick told WSTM. “Just a great man.”

Fuccillo played tight end for the Syracuse University football team before graduating with a degree in marketing, the News-Press reported. After graduating, he said he was broke and about to be evicted from his apartment, according to the Times-Union.

“The only job I could get was selling cars,” Fuccillo told the newspaper. “I found out I was good at it.”

Fuccillo bought his first wholesale car business in 1981.

Fuccillo was also known for his philanthropy, WKBW reported. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fucillo Automotive delivered hundreds of meals at a time to frontline workers at hospitals across Western New York.

“People could laugh at him but, you know what? That man was one of the smartest men I have known because everybody knew his name,” Perrella told the Times-Union. “Marketing-wise, he hit it out of the park.”

In 2012, Fuccillo hosted a concert by Styx on his Cape Coral lot, luring in thousands of the classic rockers’ fans and selling dozens of cars, according to the News-Press.

Fuccillo said his greatest day as a dealer came in 1996, when he sold 523 cars in a single day. He invited Robbie Knievel, son of motorcycle daredevil Evil Knievel, to jump his bike over 19 cars outside Fuccillo’s Adams Dealership, the newspaper reported.

“Now, that was definitely huuuuuge,” Fuccillo said at the time.